Thursday, January 17, 2013


Note: Published in Animal Scene magazine issue of July 2010

Our little dog, Epoy the pekingese, was to turn seven. “It’s a cause for celebration,” exclaimed a friend who is a dog lover through and through.

We have lived in our home for quite a time and, until this time, we still have to know our neighbors. So why not throw a party for the neighborhood kids?

Epoy carried by Ninang for the birthday cake photo

The excitement of a party instantly heightened the atmosphere pressure. After getting a pen and paper, my wife, together with our maid, started the brainstorming session by jotting down names.

It didn’t take long for them to come up with a list of 25 kids and 20 adults. But it swelled with the addition of some relatives and dog-lover friends.

Ninong in red with Ricella Zurbito, Jep Manalang with Shadow, Lord Yambao with Shugar

As the planning session progressed, the list got longer and longer. We need to rent chairs, design a tarpaulin, and of course, print the invitation. If there would be loot bags for giveaways then we have to shop for candies, toys and children items.

And so as not to bore the guests, there’s got to be games. And games means prizes, better add that to the shopping list. And do not forget the balloons, please.

Ninang with Ricella and Lord

Speaking of balloons, the budget was now fully inflated. From the simple spaghetti and barbecue, the menu expanded with hotdog cocktails, prawns, fried chicken, lumpiang ubod and the all-time favorite lechon.

What is food without dessert? The usual cones and ice cream in different flavors surely fit the bill. We can top that with leche flan and American fruit salad.

The young Jeric Siopongco and Ann Minnelle Cando with Epoy. At right is Tess Clarin with Tisoy

Come d-day, everything was in place. Perhaps good planning did the trick. And another good thing going for us was the weather. It was all fair and sunny on that 5th of June.

Magnifying our joy was the arrival of Shadow and Shugar, the shih tzus from Pampanga owned by Jep Manalang and Christopher Lord Yambao. Another very welcome guest was Ricella Zurbito of Las Piñas who owns an Aspin named Paris.

Hitting the pot for the jackpot

Epoy, the birthday boy, gamely mingled with the shih tzus in the expanse of our living room. But the guest dogs were somewhat intimidated by Tisoy, our spitz who was incessantly barking. We had no choice but to put Tisoy on a leash.

In the absence of a sound system, we had to improvise so the kids would fully enjoy the games. A laptop with speakers solved our problem. Thanks to the mp3 music that’s free from the internet.

Awarding of prizes to the winners of the parlor games

With the stimulating games and overflowing prizes, the guests - kids and adults as well - truly enjoyed the party. The “hit the pot” was a blockbuster so we had to do a repeat. Fortunately there were a lot of spare candies and coins for that purpose.

And like a real kid celebrating his birthday, Epoy had to blow the candle on his cake after the singing of the birthday anthem. Amid the clicking of cameras, Epoy and his canine friends seem to understand what was happening.

The party hosts: Ninang with Epoy, Tess Clarin with Tisoy. At the back ar Duday Cando, Ann Minnelle and Rojan Cando

At the party’s end, Shadow and Shugar were kept in pet carriers for their trip back home to Pampanga. We fully appreciated the effort of Jep and Lord in bringing along their dogs, considering that they just availed of the public transportation.

We never expected that our neighbors would cooperate with the little fun we had in mind for what’s a party without gifts? A bevy of dog items wrapped with trimmings adorned the corner lamp table – shampoo, soap, towel, canned food and dog treats plus toys.

The gifts for Epoy's birthday

Despite the time, effort and expenses incurred in throwing the big party for a small dog, it’s very gratifying to realize that at last we now know our neighbors. Or I should say, our neighbors now know us.


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